By Alex M. Parker

May 4, 2011

As news that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces broke late Sunday night, congressional leaders were quick to note the historic occassion.

"The man with the blood of more than 3,000 Americans on his hands, the man who forced us to begin to think the unthinkable - is now dead," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor , in a statement released only moments after President Obama addressed the nation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it the "most significant victory in our fight against al Qaeda and terrorism," but added that the "fight is not over." Added New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer : "Because Bin Laden's evil dogma has poisoned the minds of so many others, we cannot let up in the war on terror. This successful mission sends a definitive message to those who would test the resolve of the people of the United States of America: do not doubt our resolve; if you do us harm, we will find you, we will mete out justice, and we will prevail."

Democratic and Republicanleaders were equally congratulatory to President Obama for the successful mission -- although many Republicans also included words of thanks to former President George W. Bush. "I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement," said Sen. John McCain , an Arizona Republican and Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election. "In 2001, President Bush said 'we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail,'" said Peter King , a Republican Congressman from Long Island, New York. "President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words. President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell thanked military, intelligence, and law enforcement officials, but didn't mention Obama or Bush. "This is a great victory in the war on terror and for all who have worked so tirelessly over the years to thwart the monstrous designs of this madman and his disciples," the Kentucky Republican said.

Lawmakers also noted how the event would be recognized around the world. "They myth of Bin Laden has been punctured," said Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin . "We are a nation of peace and laws, and people everywhere should understand that our ten-year manhunt was in search of justice not revenge," said Sen. John Kerry , a Massachusetts Democrat. "Terrorists everywhere must never doubt that the United States will hunt them down no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes." Looking forward, lawmakers said they hoped that bin Laden's death would be a turning point in the nation's war on terrorism, which has now stretched nearly a decade since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"It is impossible to predict the future, but I hope the death of Osama bin Laden and the growth of democratic movements in the Muslim world marks a momentous turning point, which leads the region toward peace and prosperity and away from terrorism, death, and destruction," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent.


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